Be aware of your usual bowel habits and changes in stool formation

Bristol stool chart

On March 4th I went to the doctor because for the previous few weeks my bowel habits had changed. Normally I would poo once a day  in the morning after getting up and over the last few weeks I have been going a number of times during the day and never really feeling that I had emptied my rectum.

I rarely go to the doctor, I have had antibiotics once in 30 years for a kidney infection twelve years ago. I went twice last year because I had developed gout in 2009, it can be extremely painful and the only thing that touches the pain is the anti inflamatory diclofenac. Over the years I have had seven knee operations for ligament and cartilage but always manage it with Ice. I had gone to the doctor twice but never mentioned bowel problems in fact I felt the healthiest I had been for years thanks to playing a lot of tennis and teaching a core stability class every week.

I told the doctor my bowel hapits had changed over the last few weeks and had noticed a touch of blood and mucus in my poo the previous day. I mentioned the comment made by Bobby Moore in the TV documentary that I had seen.

My GP examined my abdomen and then rammed a finger up my ass. I remember when I was taught to do a breast exam at college, dont use the tips of the fingers Dr El Dars advised be professional. Obviously you dont want the patient to get the wrong idea, however this was like having a broom handle rammed up my ass, I laughed and commented; “now I remember why I choose chiropractic as a career” the GP laughed.

The GP said he did not think there was anything to worry about but with my history better to be on the safe side he referred me to a consultant at Kingston Hospital, he wrote the letter as I sat there; “Thank you for seeing this 53 year old gentleman who has noticed a change in bowel hapit over the past 4-6 weeks, where he has been going a little more often than normal and has a feeling that he is not emptying his bowels properly. He noticed a bit of blood and mucous yesterday which was not present today. Rectal exam was normal”.

These were my signs and symptoms I have put links to sites that provide more comprehensive lists of what to look for. Below are the main risk factors:

  • Age: As you age, your risk for colorectal cancer increases. In fact, more than 90% of those afflicted with the condition are over the age of 50, and the majority are 70 or older. This is partly due to the fact that colorectal cancer develops over a period of at least 10 years.
  • Diet and lifestyle: A number of studies show that what you eat, as well as how physically active you are, may be linked to your likelihood of developing colorectal cancer. For instance, low-fat, high-fibre diets are associated with a greatly reduced risk. Conversely, diets high in fat, calories, alcohol, and protein, and low in calcium may elevate the risk. Smoking also increases your risk of developing colorectal cancer.
  • Family history: As with many other forms of cancer, the odds of getting colorectal cancer go up if a family member, particularly a parent or sibling, has had the disease. While this may be in part to genetic factors, it may also result from living in a similar environment or adopting a similar lifestyle.
  • Polyps: Polyps are growths of tissue that can be found in the colon. These growths can be benign (non-cancerous) or they can go on to become cancerous. It has been shown that removing polyps that have been discovered by rectal exams and colonoscopies can reduce your chances of developing colorectal cancer.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease: Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease have been associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer.

About Richard Lanigan

Born 1957, have 4 children. Was diagnosed with stage three rectal cancer in March 2011.
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